Do you live in a climate with hot summers and cold winters? Looking for a way to reduce your energy expenditures without sacrificing your family’s comfort?
A ceiling fan could be the answer. Ceiling fans are a great way to control your home’s temperature without adjusting the thermostat. During the summer, you can turn your thermostat up as many as 4℉ and you won’t feel the difference if you run your ceiling fan during the hottest part of the day.
If you don’t have a ceiling fan, or you need to replace an old one, there’s no need to call an electrician. It’s easy to install a ceiling fan yourself, as long as you have wiring in place (like to power a light fixture).
Here’s what you need to do.
1. Cut Power to the Circuit
First things first — be safe and turn off power to the circuit you’ll be working on at the breaker. Use the light switch in the room to make sure the power is off, and leave it in the off position while you’re working, just in case.
2. Remove the Old Fixture or Fan
Remove the screws that fasten the old fan or fixture to your ceiling and carefully lower the fixture to expose the wiring. Remove the wire nuts and untwist the ends of the wiring.
Now you can carefully lower the old fan or fixture and set it aside.
3. Install a Fan Brace and Fan-Rated Electrical Box
If you’re replacing an existing ceiling fan, you probably already have a fan brace and fan-rated pancake electrical box in your ceiling — but make sure you have the right electrical box and that it’s fastened to either a joist or a secure ceiling fan brace, because ceiling fans are heavy and the last thing you need is to have it come crashing down.
If you’re replacing a light fixture, you’ll need to remove the light-rated electrical box and replace it with a fan-rated one. If the old electrical box is nailed to a joist or a beam between joists, pry it off, and then make sure you’re attaching your new fan-rated box directly to a joist or to a ceiling fan brace between the joists.
If you have access to the ceiling joists from above, you can go up in the attic and screw a two-by-four across the space between the joists using 1 ½-inch screws. You can also buy expanding metal braces that can be inserted through the hole from below.
Or, you can simply cut a new hole over the joist and anchor your fan directly to the joist.
4. Put Up a Ceiling Medallion
If you’re cutting a new hole over a joist, you’re going to need to cover up the old hole (since it won’t be covered by your new ceiling fan’s canopy). You can use a ceiling medallion to hide the old hole.
Glue it to the ceiling using a urethane adhesive. Feed the wiring down through the middle of the ceiling medallion and affix it to the ceiling. Use four 6d finishing nails to secure the ceiling medallion, and hide the nail heads with spackle.
If you’re using the same hole your previous fan or fixture used, you can skip this step. But a ceiling medallion does look nice, and you can buy different styles to match your fan design, like rustic ceiling medallions to go with rustic ceiling fans, for example.
5. Assemble the Fan Motor
Follow the instructions that came with your fan to make sure you’re assembling the fan motor properly. You will generally feed the wires from the motor through the canopy, then thread them through the downrod and screw the downrod into the top of the motor (without removing the factory coating from the threads).
Finally, tighten the locking nut on the top of the motor assembly. Attach the ceiling plate that comes with your fan to the fan-rated electrical box, and then use the hook on the canopy to hang the motor assembly from the ceiling plate while you’re connecting the wiring.
6. Connect the Wiring
You will see three colors of wire coming out of your ceiling — white, black, and green or bare copper. Connect the white wire in your ceiling to the white wire in your fan motor, the black to the black, and the green or bare to the green or bare.
This last is the ground wire, and it will probably need to be wound around a ground screw in the ceiling plate or electrical box. Make sure to tighten the ground screw a little to hold the ground wire in place.
Use wire nuts to secure your wiring connections. Then swing the fan motor up and fasten it to the canopy.
7. Attach the Fan Blades and Light Fixture
Each fan blade should connect to a bracket known as a blade iron. Attach all the blade irons to all the blades and then attach the blades to the fan motor. If your new fan has a light fixture, you may be able to just plug it into the motor assembly, but if you have to connect more wiring, do it the same way you did the fan motor.
Then you can insert light bulbs, put your glass light covers on, and relax in the cool breeze created by your new ceiling fan.